Ash Chest



Double rectangular ash chest of Lepidia Privata and M. Lepidius Epigonus. Despite the double inscription there is only one cavity in the chest. The decoration is only at the front while at the side corners there are the remnants of Ammon heads and eagles in a recessed panel. The Ammon heads are too big and the sculptor may have found it difficult to represent them in a convincing way. The heads have some detailed modelling and their beards and hair are stylised but of regular curls of possibly the 2nd century AD. The eagles are also schematically represented and smaller than the Ammon heads, their feathers made in rough chisel strokes. A laurel garland slungs from the horns to the lower part of the front. The garland is small and rope like and follows the shape of the inscription panel rather than in an arc. Details of leaves and berries are on the garland but in a very low relief. Above the inscription is an abstract pattern of pairs of wavy lines, possibly a ribbon (taeniae) . Above the bottom at the front there is a moulding with a single line and the traces of similar moulding at the top are heavily eroded. The back is roughly worked and so is the interior cavity. The top edge is not shaped for a lid and there are no clamp holes. The sides are partially finished. The inscriptions are to the left: LEPIDIA.M.(arci) ) (=Gaiae ) l (iberta)/Private/vixit annis XV Lepidia Privata, wife of Marcus, freedwoman of Caia, lived 15 years To the right: M(arcus) Lepidius/Epigonus Marcus Lepidius Epigonus Lepidia Privata was very young when she was married at fifteen and was probably freed from being a slave also very young. She may have been married to Lepidius Epigonus buried in the same chest, though it is not clear from the inscription. Purchased from the Villa Mattei Collection by Henry Blundell on his first trip to Italy in 1777. It may have been found in Via Appia. It appeared in the Monumenta Matthaeiana with some damage or weathering and with a lid that did not seem to enter Blundell's collection. In the Engravings volume it is shown with lid 59.148.313b which is a bit too wide for it was most likely not the original lid. At the right hand corner above the inscription there is a small triangular area of restoration and a circular hole near the base has been plugged, there is a crack on the right side of the chest, a large hole through the base and two small holes in the lower part of the back with metal pipes inside them. The holes may suggest that it was once used as part of a fountain.